4 Strategies to Combat & Circumvent Burnout from the Pros
When a person in a less creative industry finds themselves burned out, they may have less gusto but it might be possible to keep getting some work done. In a creative-driven industry like ours, burnout not only feels terrible but can also keep us from getting s#!%%# done. What do we do when we can’t create, the ideas don’t flow or our passion wanes? And, let’s be honest, with long hours, tight deadlines, and creative pressures — the world of post production can take a toll on a person. It doesn’t matter how new or experienced you are, no one is immune.
The Boris FX team asked people we admire to share strategies for how they keep burnout at bay.
Here’s what they had to say.
1. Choose Your Work Wisely
“For those of us that work in post, “project diversity” can help keep us challenged and help avoid burnout. As a colorist and finishing editor, an important thing for me is to always work on a variety of materials and projects. I might do a series about homicide detectives and then follow it up with a travel or cooking show. By constantly mixing it up and avoiding heavy repetition, new projects feel fresh and I am reminded why I chose this career.”
“Find clients that don't have unreasonable demands and therefore allow you to keep a healthy work/life balance!”
- Lloyd Alvarez, Founder aescripts + aeplugins
2. Find Work Life Balance
“Do something outside of work that is 100% for you and no one else. Something that has no deadline and is for pure enjoyment such as a hobby, an outing, or reading a book. I love to read, go on hikes, visit theme parks, and attend nerdy conventions about comic books, pop culture and halloween. And during these times, I usually am successful in avoiding checking my work email.”
“The best way to avoid burn out is to choose one thing a day. It doesn't have to be some be all and end all event. It doesn't even have to be the same thing, (in fact, it shouldn't be). Every single day, try and pick something relatively different. I shoot for 30 to 60 minutes of an activity a day. This could be helping at your church, local food bank, homeless shelter, retirement home, or just help a neighbor… you get the idea. Be social, meet new people and do something that helps someone other than yourself.”
- Ian Robinson, Co-Founder of Creative One-Eleven
“My burnout is a result of working intently but unproductively, resulting in frustration and stress. Often my best creative ideas have come when I’m not actually working on the task at hand. Having a ping pong table nearby has helped enormously. Taking regular breaks for a little fresh air and sunshine is critical. When on break, try staying off your smart phone and just let your mind absorb a little peace and quiet, even if just for a few minutes. I’ve also greatly benefited from working out of a home studio where pets and kids periodically meander in and out to remind me what life is all about.”
- Robert Stone, Award winning documentary director of “Earth Days”, “Pandora’s Promise” and “Oswald’s Ghost”
3. Set Yourself Up for Success
"Carve out time for yourself. For me, this means a few different things.
a) I like to exercise 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes. I tend to do this in the mornings. I find that the days that I do I'm more productive during the day by having more energy.
b) I meditate everyday for 10 minutes right when I wake up. I use Headspace. What's great about this is it gives you time to just be with your breath. As simple as this is those few moments you spend in silence can be used as an anchor when you go throughout your day. For example, when you work in front of a screen/computer people's breath can become more shallow. By simply noticing your breathing patterns, you can eventually start to change how you breath allowing you to feel grounded even when work becomes stressful.”
- Nick Harauz, Co-Founder. Creative One-Eleven
"It sounds obvious, but don't compromise on sleep. If I'm working a lot of late nights, or on the weekend, I make sure I get into bed early and don't go out partying. I'm completely unwavering about my commitment to sleep, I think it is the foundation of my sanity. Sometimes all-nighters are unavoidable, but I always make up for it afterwards.”
- Samantha Quick, 360 Video Journalist, NYTimes VR
"For me, burnout happens when creative flow is restricted – so I organize everything. Meta-Tag, create folders, have favorite plugins ready on the fly. It’s hard to be creative if you don’t have the right material at the ready. Also, a good foot massager doesn’t hurt.
For burnout perspective: Sharknado 5 had over 1100 visual effects. We did this in 8 weeks, with 10 artists. Minimal burnout.
Because when you are in a creative flow, you want to indulge and not waste time finding crap. The more diverted your attention, the more you will create burnouts.”
- David Latt, Co-Founder The Asylum and Producer of Sharknado
“For me, the key is to stay excited about the project. Keeping that passion strong is tough, but one great way to do it is by showing trusted people parts of what you are working on. Their enthusiasm is always very contagious and acts as a sort of recharge for me to keep pushing. Of course another important factor is taking a break every now and then - stepping away to clear your head, preferably with something that has nothing to do with the current project… Sometimes I’ll even work on something else entirely as a quick reset for my main project.”
- Ryan Connolly, Director and host of Film Riot
4. Establish Your Limits
“I spend all day reviewing footage but whenever we have a Sunday off myself and my wife will settle down for a quiet Sunday lunch and read the New York Times… The paper edition, of course!
Never forget the power of switching from transmitted light to reflected light. There’s something beautiful about not having the page shouting at you. Give your eyes a rest when you can.”
- Jake Morrison, VFX Supervisor, Marvel Films
"Avoiding burnout comes from having a deep understanding of yourself and your limits. Once you know your own personal boundaries you can understand your own creative flexibilities and tendencies. I allow a little burn out to happen in my own personal life as it helps me understand my boundaries better and with each burn out I realign and learn.”
- Ash Thorp, President of ALT Creative, Inc.
One thing is for sure, if you are struggling with burnout, you are not alone.
What do you do to keep your energy and passion going when they start to waiver? Tweet us your tips for fighting burnout!